Just over a month after offering coronavirus tests to minorities for $150 each at an event he was forced to cancel, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Jamal Bryant is now offering the tests for free to anyone who needs it if they show up at his church on Mother’s Day.
“You don’t have to be a member of our church, you don’t have to be a member of a church, all you have to do is be a part of humanity,” Bryant said in a Facebook Live announcement Tuesday night. “I want you to pick your mother up on Sunday, bring your dad, bring your aunt, bring whoever it is that you care about to New Birth on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.”
In early April, Bryant announced that he had canceled a two-day drive-thru event that would have seen up to 1,000 people get tested for the coronavirus for a fee of $150 at his church in Lithonia, Georgia.
He said he was approached by a Florida lab that wanted to partner with his church to provide the coronavirus test kits and had reached an agreement with RoweDocs and Oakhurst health clinics to provide the tests. The process to obtain a test at New Birth would have involved a pre-screening to be performed by RoweDocs for a fee of $25 followed by an additional cost of $125 each for the coronavirus test.
Bryant, who said he had canceled the April event to remain compliant with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-at-home order, had also come under heavy criticism online for charging for the tests. Coronavirus tests are mostly free as current legislation forces health insurers and employers to cover the costs to healthcare providers for screening without any out-of-pocket charges. There might still be costs, however, if a test is returned negative, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.
Starting on April 24, Kemp made the nation’s biggest push to reopen in the country when he gave the greenlight to barbershops, gyms, salons, and massage therapists to reopen. Restaurants and movie theaters followed on April 27 while the state’s stay-at-home order expired on April 30. Kemp urged at-risk residents to stay at home until at least mid-June.
The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed 30,602 cases of coronavirus in the state at 12:25 p.m. Wednesday, up by 710 from Tuesday at 7:25 p.m. Some 11 additional deaths were also reported overnight, pushing coronavirus fatalities in the state to 1,306.
While lamenting Kemp’s move to reopen businesses and pointing to Georgia’s infection numbers, Bryant warned those who plan on getting tested at his church to prepare to be patient in potentially long lines. All tests will be drive-thru and is expected to last between four to five minutes.
“I’m excited because Atlantans, particularly black Atlantans, are woefully underserviced. As well as I am grateful to partner … both of our partners MAJL [Diagnostic] Laboratories and RoweDocs, both of those companies are owned and operated by black women,” he said.